Friday, March 26, 2010

5 Tips to Avoid Self-Harm and Cutting

I know I can't be the only one who has to fight the urge to cut. Sometimes, I win; sometimes I end up with a mess to clean up and a few cuts to hide. I can't make up my mind if the reason I cut is because I just want to feel something, anything - or if I want the release of the blood. Honestly, I think it is both for me. Your reason for self-harm is your own...I can only speak about myself in this as self-harm is just so.....personal. I haven't cut in a while I'm happy to say, but I get the urge to do so more often than I'd care to admit. I know self-harm is a very strong urge to resist, so here are 10 tips to help resist the urge. Some are tried and true; some I haven't tried yet but think they might work. I believe that the self-harm urge (particularly cutting) is like cancer - it never goes away, but it can go into remission.

Before we begin, know the Self-Injurer's Bill of Rights, so if you end up cutting or self-harming, you know your rights when you are being treated for your injuries. So without further delay:

1. Get up and move. 
Put your sneakers on and run, jog, run-in-place, do some Pilates, run up and down your staircase at home - just get yourself moving. The endorphins released by physical exercise might help decrease the urge. If you find that after a few minutes, you're still feeling the urge, push your body physically a little more. Add a shout and some arm waving to whatever you're doing. What you're trying to do here is release that build-up of internal pressure...that urge - without self-harming.

2. Scream. 
Yes, that's right - scream. Throw your head back and let 'er rip. Scream out all that internal pressure, scream out your pain - scream, scream, scream! This works best (of course) if you're alone. I scream sometimes in the car when I'm driving. I try not to do it at a stop light (cause the people in the cars next to you will think you're nuts), but honestly - since you'll probably never see those people again, who cares what they think?

3. Write in your journal.
If you have a journal, use it. Write out the feelings that can't be expressed verbally. Even being numb is a feeling. What would things be like for you if you could feel? When you allow yourself to feel, it is too painful to deal with so you'd rather face physical pain than emotional - I get it; but can you face the emotional pain by writing some of all of it down? Do you cry? Write about it. Allow the others to come out and write as well. Just for a few minutes, open yourself up on paper. Let it out. Sometimes when I do this, I'll burn the written words after wards...just too personal - even for myself. Be careful with this one, though. Sometimes, others inside will really resent your writing things down and may give you massive headaches.

4. Arts and Crafts.
Here lately, I've been playing around with crocheting and knitting not only to fight the urge to cut, but also as a stress reliever. Some times I need to crochet a bit before I can post to this blog because the mere fact that I've created this blogspot in and of itself is sometimes very triggering for me. You don't have to be creative or even particularly artistic to do crafts. Get yourself a 'how-to' on a craft you'd like to learn and dive in. If you already have experience - pull out your materials and have fun. Singing a song you enjoy can also help.

5. Call a friend or your therapist.
Phone a friend and gossip, or talk about the latest fashions. Men, call and talk about sports or whatever you and your friend have in common that isn't related at all to self-harm. Go meet up for a cup o' coffee or something. Going to see a movie would work as well. Be comfortable enough with this friend that if you need to walk out on a movie that is triggering, you can do so without it being a big deal.

One final note. If you do end up cutting, don't think you can't start over and try some of these tips again. Just find something that works AT THAT MOMENT so that you don't self-harm or cut and be willing to switch it up and be creative.

Jess Mei writes about dissociative disorders on her blog site at:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Suicide Prevention

Teenage suicide is preventable when people learn to recognize the warning signs. Often teenagers present the warning signs to people closest to them. Unfortunately by the time a teenager that is feeling suicidal gets to a trained mental health professional, it can be too late. Therefore it is vital that all people learn to recognize the warning signs. It is only when the warning signs are recognized, and addressed that suicide can be prevented.

You do not need to be a trained mental health professional to prevent teen suicide. You must be willing to listen, and you must be willing to ask the "right" questions.

If you believe that a teenager may be suicidal, you must be willing to ask the question. You must be willing to ask if they are feeling suicidal. Many people are afraid to ask, as they believe that asking about suicide will lead the teenager to make a suicide attempt. This is a myth. Asking about suicide will not lead to suicide anymore than asking about teen pregnancy will lead a teenager to get pregnant. If you are concerned that an individual is suicidal, then you must be willing to take the first step and ask.

Asking about suicide can help a teenager that is feeling suicidal to feel okay about speaking about these feelings.

Be prepared. Once you ask the question, you must be willing to listen to the answer. Take the answer seriously. Many people believe that a person that talks about suicide, will not do it, as they only want attention. This is a myth. People that talk about suicide often do make suicide attempts so any indications that tell you this person is feeling suicidal must be taken seriously. Anybody that uses suicide as a means of getting attention, desperately needs attention and we must pay attention.

Over 85% of the people that complete suicide made a suicide attempt before taking their own lives. People that talk about suicide often do make suicide attempts, so take these conversations seriously.

For more information about preventing teen suicide please visit my website.

About the Author:
Tammy Stoner is a licensed clinical social worker and trained family therapist. She has provided training and education to lay people and professionals about preventing teen suicide. A course can be found for continuing education units at

What Mental Health Recovery Means

Recovery in mental health is not used in the same manner in which one typically views recovery. Webster defines recovery as:

1) a return to normal conditions
2) an act, instance, process, or period of recovering
3) Something gained or restored in recovering
4) The act of obtaining usable substance from unusable sources, as with waste materials

These definitions are problematic. What is a normal condition? When is one done with recovering? What is gained or restored? And how could you even begin to refer the human mind as unusable?
Consequently, the concept of mental recovery was coined by Pricilla Ridgeway as "an ongoing process of self directed healing and transformation." The Mental Health Center of Denver, or MHCD, the home of some of the leading researchers in the mental health recovery field, go on to say that recovery is a non-linear process where one progresses from lower to higher levels of fulfillment in a number of metrics. In short, recovery is a sliding scale process driven by the consumer, rather than scheduled out by the mental healthcare practitioner.

Thus essentially, recovery from a mental illness is not equated to being cured, it means living a meaningful, fulfilling life regardless of, rather than in spite of, one's mental condition. Interestingly enough, cultural differences do exist in the meaning of what 'recovery' and mental health recovery actually is. New Zealand, which recently mandated all mental health facilities adopt a recovery-based approach, views recovery as a merging between psychoanalysis and cultural recognition. The U.K. agrees with New Zealand in believing that recovery is a systematic concept (thus including one's environment and culture), rather than an incidental one. The United States tends to focus more on the number of people coming in than those going out, thus the notion of recovery is still rather unformed in the region.

The Mental Health Center of Denver, through their Research and Evaluation's Department, has further developed psychometric tools for quantifiably testing a mental healthcare consumer's progress through the mental health recovery process. These instruments have been substantiated by biostatisticians and psychological/psychiatric expertise, thus are generally held in good standing.

To find out more about MHCD's instruments, visit their Reaching Recovery Initiative. To find out more about a recovery-based center and what their treatments are like, visit the MHCD Homepage, or the Recovery Blog. To access absolutely free and publicly available publications on psychometric research and psychiatric case studies, please access the Research and Evaluation team's publications page.

Stay tuned for some great tips on how to prevent mental health illnesses and how to recover in the fastest manner possible!
Stay healthy, stay healthy!
--Lex Douvasa
Information Systems Researcher and Data Expert

Supporting a Friend With Mental Health Difficulties

Someone who is experiencing mental health difficulties is usually able to live a successful full life, particuarly if they are receiving help to manage their illness. However, it is not uncommon for stigma to be attached to experiencing mental health difficulties. This often causes people to feel embarrassed.

Often people with mental health difficulties worry that people will tease them or treat them differently. There are some things that you may want to do to help your friend feel more comfortable, these are:

Avoid being judgmental - Being aware of the stigma. Keeping an open mind may help to create a safe environment for your friend which may mean they are more likely to relax and enjoy themselves.

Talk about what they find helpful - Make conversations about their mental health difficulties easy and open. Try asking about what helps them when things are tough. By talking openly, you are letting the person know about your love and support for them. You may like to talk about what you have read and ask how they feel about it.

Respecting your friend's limits - There may be times when your friend says they are not able to do something because of their illness. It is important that you respect this and don't put extra pressure on them. Often those who are taking medication are not able to drink alcohol. This may make it hard for your friend in certain social situations. If you know that your friend is unable to drink it may be a helpful when you do hang out to choose to do something that doesn't involve alcohol.

Encouraging your friend to stay with their medication - It is likely that someone with long-term mental illness will be on regular medication. This may have side effects, which mean your friend may not like taking the medication. However, medication is often an important part of managing the illness and your friend may need your support to stick at it.
If your friend stops using or changes the amount of medication they use without getting the OK from their psychiatrist or doctor, encourage them to make an appointment quickly. Similarly if they are experiencing side effects that weren't expected they should also contact their psychiatrist or doctor.

Ensure that you have contact numbers - Having the contact numbers of people like their psychologist, doctor or psychiatrist is often important in helping your friend through a crisis. It means that you can contact someone who knows your friend should they be unsafe.

Getting help for your friend

For those who have a mental health difficulty, there may be periods when things are not manageable. Harder times may be triggered if your friend has been over-stressed or there has been a traumatic event or a change in medication. These things can trigger the characteristics of the mental illness they experience. This is often called an episode.
If you are concerned that your friend is not behaving as they normally would then it is important to encourage them to talk to someone they trust like their doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. If you think that your friend is likely to hurt themselves or someone else find some help immediately even if they don't want you to.

Looking after yourself

Sometimes when we are helping a friend we forget to look after our ourselves. It is important to also take care of your own needs as well as helping your friend. Make sure that you don't give up things that you enjoy and if you are feeling tired or ovwhelmed take some time out and relax.

With Much Love,
Arthur Buchanan
Out of Darkness & Into the Light
43 Oakwood Ave. Suite 1012
Huron Ohio, 44839
567-219-0994 (cell)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy - DBT - To Treat Borderline Personality Disorder - BPD

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by impulsive actions, unstable moods, and problems having relationships with others. Many people suffering with it also have paranoid thoughts or complain of feeling "numb" or "spacey". Along with often suffering from severe mood swings, they are often uncertain about their identity and self-image. Sufferers of Borderline Personality Disorder find that it affects many areas of their lives including work, school, relationships and physical health. Sufferers often say they feel empty so some will cut or burn themselves "to feel something."

Dialectical behavior therapy is used by treatment with personality disorders. It was developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD. It is a type of psychotherapy that uses cognitive behavioral techniques with mindful awareness. Cognitive therapy focuses on thoughts and beliefs along with actions. It is the first therapy that has shown to be effective to treat Borderline Personality Disorder.

Dr. Lineman's theory is that the core issue in BPD is a combination of emotionally unstable environment as a child and emotional dis regulation. The goal of Dialectical Behavior Therapy is helping the patient to learn techniques that decrease emotional swings and unhealthy ways of coping with them when they do occur.

Using dialectical behavior therapy to treat patients with BPD involves helping the patient to develop skills for regulating emotions and also reducing the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. There are several components of the treatment. Supervision by therapists to provide support to the patient, individual therapy to help the patient realize the reasons for treatment, training to increase their capabilities, and to learn new skills in ways of coping with their feelings and emotions. Patients learn to assert their needs, manage relationships, how to handle upsetting factors that occur, and in general learning overall to observe and participate in life without labeling things "good" or "bad".

Even though it is now thought that Borderline Personality Disorder is contributed to by genetic factors and actual differences in the brain structure and functioning of the brain in some people Dialectical Behavior Therapy is the first cognitive therapy that has shown real improvement in people with Borderline Personality Disorders.

To learn more about treating borderline personality disorder (BPD), head on over to, a world-renowned psychiatric hospital and online mental health resource. There you will find a wealth of information about all different disorders and treatments, including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).